cballinger's Reporter Blog

Sports Editor's Playbook, Feb. 25, 2013

Monday, October 11th, 2010

When in doubt, bring a camera.
Knowing I would have a few photos from the state wrestling tournament to place in Monday’s sports section, I mulled the decision to take my camera to the Unadilla Valley-Harpursville girls’ basketball playoff game Friday at UV High School. The offenses sputtered in the first half – a 19-19 tie – something that was a surprising development since each club regularly eclipsed the 60- and even 70-point mark throughout the regular season. Through three quarters, it was still a one-possession game with neither team taking control. I rated it a good game that was amplified by a rowdy, near-capacity crowd. A good game became great in the final four minutes with big shots, clutch free throws, and a dramatic conclusion. I tried to capture some of the action with my cell phone camera, but to no avail. Why didn’t I bring the same professional camera I have used throughout the winter sports season? The emotion of the closing moments was priceless, but I was without the proper tool to immortalize those moments by way of a photograph. At least there is a detailed recap of the game in Monday’s edition, one that unfortunately ended the Storm’s best regular season in my stay at The Evening Sun.

Disappointment pervaded our local wrestling community this weekend. I was sure at least one of our three state finalists – Norwich’s Tristan Rifanburg and Frank Garcia along with Greene’s Christian Dietrich – would end their seasons with a state title. All three matches were nail-biting close with the combined deficit of those three losses just four points. Rifanburg gave up a last-second takedown to lose by one; Garcia was seconds away from a tying reversal to send his match into overtime, and Dietrich gave up a takedown in the third – a counter off of his own aggression – to lose by a single point. The only good news coming out of the weekend is that all three will back to try again – Rifanburg and Garcia are sophomores, while Dietrich is just a freshman. “It hurts to come that far and fall short by just a few seconds,” said Norwich coach Joe Downey, summing up the feelings of his wrestlers.

For hoops followers, just one local team remains: Norwich. The Tornado boys advanced to their second straight Section IV Class B final, and seek a sixth sectional championship when they face Whitney Point Saturday at the Broome County Arena. At 16-4, Norwich has won 11 of 12 games, and of its four losses, none have come to a Class B school. We’ll have a preview of that title game later this week.

Indoor track and field doesn’t get a ton of ink in our paper, in part because most of the meets have occurred 60-plus miles away at Cornell University. The same local athletes who have excelled in the outdoors track and field season are matching those performances on the shorter indoor tracks. If you haven’t had the opportunity, you need to take a look at Norwich junior Matt Murray. He holds so many school records, it’s hard to keep track (sorry, it was hard to resist). Unbeaten against Section IV competition this year in just about every individual event he has entered, he won the 600 meters at this past weekend’s state qualifier by a whopping four seconds. If this was the 1,600 meters or 3,200 meters, four seconds might not seem so impressive, but in the shortest middle distance race – or an extended sprint race – four seconds might as well be 10. Murray is a state title contender, so keep an eye out for the state meet coming slated for Saturday, March 2 at Cornell University’s Barton Hall.

Section IV inducts its newest class of athletes into its athletics hall of fame on championship Saturday at the Broome County Arena. Norwich’s Josh and Jason Morris, Tom Stoddard, Barry Benjamin, and Nick Brunick, along with Greene’s Sue Carlin and Brad Henneman will be honored. Ceremonies will begin after the completion of the 1 p.m. basketball game.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

Tuesday morning

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Driving in a convertible with the top down, I sped along a mountainside highway. It was one of those four-lane constructs and the portion of the road going in the opposite direction was disconnected and ran parallel at a lower elevation. I was driving high up in the mountains and the view contained nothing but white emptiness.

Coming around a wide bend in the road, which curved upwards around the mountain top at a slant, I saw that the approaching segment of road was covered in a thickly packed coating of snow. Traveling at 60 miles per hour, I duly noted I was going way too fast.

Upon hitting the snow, I immediately lost control of the car. The vehicle began careening off the road at a frightening speed. Exiting the elevated highway, the car completely bypassed the lower portion of the road, sailing through the air while the wheels spun ineptly, gaining traction on nothing but the breeze. The left front potion of the car slammed into the snow encrusted mountain, well beyond the highway and just a few short feet away from the cliff’s edge. But the car kept going, sliding right off the edge of the cliff, before I managed to do anything other than unfasten my seat belt.

Exiting the car via the open roof, I fell through the crisp mountain air knowing full well it was the end. Resigned to my fate I calmly closed my eyes and felt the wind whip through my hair. But after a few brief moments in free fall, I changed my mind and willed them open, determined to witness the arrival of my fate.

Suddenly, a barren rock protrusion extending about three feet out of the cliff side, came hurtling at me out of the milky expanse. I stuck my arms out in front of me with my palms facing down to meet my demise. My descent inexplicably slowed and while I did converge with the barren black rock to the sound of my cracking wrists, I remained conscious, and oddly alive.

I pressed my body against the jutting rock shelf, suddenly terrified of the height. Opaque nothingness hung below me, looming ominously and promising to devour my very soul. Shifting, I tried to shimmy over to a wider section of the overhang, and instantaneously lost my adhesion to the rock. Sliding off of the rock protrusion, I flailed around in a panic, gaining a hold on the rock at the last possible moment. My shattered wrists roared in pain, while the lower half of my body hung off the protrusion, my feet dangling uselessly below. Gasping from a pain tempered only by iron will and animalistic fear, I lunged forward with my free arm, desperately probing the rock with my fingers for another handhold. My digits slipped into an empty crevice and a swell of relief filled me with such magnitude it practically lifted me up away from the edge all by itself. Dragging my feet out of the void, I hauled the rest of my body onto the relative safety of the overhang, pressing my back against the precipice earnestly trying in vain to meld my body into the rock.

I fumbled with leaden fingers numbed from the cold and hampered by broken wrists to bring my phone out of my pocket. Somehow I managed to do so and I hurriedly began endeavoring to bring the device to bear. The fight seemed to be an unending one as the phone refused to respond to my simple desire to dial 911.

Just as my frustration threatened to overwhelm and suffocate me, I awoke. I was so relieved, I hardly even noticed the puddle of sweat I was lying in, drenching my sheets and bedding.

That was how I began my Tuesday morning, how about you?